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Letter to George F. Gibbs 

Benjamin F. Johnson, 
[NOTE: Typescript copies are available in various Utah and Western libraries.] 
Dear Brother: 

In resuming my answer to your scholarly and effusive epistle, I feel in every degree incompetent 
to the task. Especially do I feel the want of learning, and my writings, of course, must betray to 
you my poverty in classical education. Through childhood and early youth, my advantages, even 
for primary education, were the most meager. At seventeen, I attended the winter term of the 
grammar school taught by William E. McLellin, in Kirtland, and presided over by the Prophet; at 
the same time attending night lectures in geography. These were my greatest opportunities for 
schooling, and in them was finished my school education; and if I have acquired in life anything 
further of worth, it has been as snatched from the wayside while on the run as a missionary, 
pioneer or while in Nature's great laboratory with the axe, plow, spade or garden implements. I 
have been hard at work to provide sustenance for that flock which the Father has sent to my 
special care. And while it may be a degree common, even with the youth of Zion, whose 
advantages so far surpass their parents', to look upon the aged as "black numbers," "old fossils," 
or "mossbacks", 

yet not one whit of that spirit do I feel in your letter, and my heart goes out toward you in love 
and blessing, as though you were indeed one of my own sons. And I most earnestly pray that the 
Lord will so inspire my thoughts and so awaken a remembrance of the past, that I may be able to 
write to you as by the voice of the spirit of my calling in the Priesthood of the fathers, of anything 
pertaining to the gospel principle or of our historic past, that may better equip you for that sphere 
of greater callings and responsibilities that await you as a son in Zion, in the lineage of Ephraim, 
and of the seed of the blessed. 

Yours thoughts in regard to the need of positive keys for interpreting our true position, condition 
and relation to the gospel, both in the past and for the future, strictly accord with my own, and to 
me it simply means that the spark of life or of light, brought with us at birth, through a 
cumulative experience, has attained its present status in intellectual and physical power. 

In infancy we were fed upon milk, and in childhood by a loving hand, while our mistakes were 
tenderly admonished. As we became older we began to grasp the principles and issues of 
physical life and the modes for its sustenance through labors of our hands; while the gospel, as an 
alphabet, with its possibilities of reaching every principle of truth and light within the great 
science of eternal lives, is given to us as spiritual or intellectual food, through which, by faith, we 
can forever grow in the knowledge and power of the Gods, to become in reality and fullness even 

the "Sons of God," with glory, exaltation, dominion and eternal progression, through the 
procreation of endless lives. 

And to how much of this greatness in knowledge and power have we yet attained? As well may 
little children in making their mud pottery claim perfection as sculptors, as for us to claim a 
fullness in the knowledge of Gospel principles, precepts, or powers. 

When were we, as a people, ever able fully to live by the law given to us of the Lord? In 1831 
and v 32' we were tried in Missouri with the Law of consecration, in which we failed; in v 33' we 
were given, in Kirtland, the Order of Enoch and the Word of Wisdom. The Order of Enoch was 
not fully honored, and after seventy years experience in accumulating wisdom many are not yet 
wise. While through His mercy, the Lord in v 36, gave us, when under His rod, the Law of Tithing 
in place of the former law, but how have we, as a people, fulfilled it? And again, when in v 43' he 
gave us, by command the high and holy law of Plural Marriage, with the sealing power of the 
Holy Priesthood, did we, as a people, receive it in the spirit and purpose for which it was given? 
Or have we been slow in comprehending even the primary lessons and precepts of this life's 

And as for even our leaders being always filled with the light of their calling, to see the "end 
from the beginning," or always to discern correctly the thoughts and purposes of others, has not 
been, according to my experience or knowledge. Does not the Lord tell us in D&C 130, that the 
Holy Ghost may descend upon a man and not always remain with him? And do we not all, at 
times, feel that to be a reality, as did the Master, when through mental anguish He "sweat blood 
at every pore", as also when upon the cross He cried out in agony of soul to His Father to know 
why He was forsaken? And to show a change of mood, even in our great Head, witness Him 
entwining a rope and in anger scourging out merchants and money changers from the temple and 
kicking over their tables, and in a gush of resentment toward those who hated Him he cries out: 
"Oh you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, ye are of your father the devil, and his works ye do!" 
calling them "garnish sepulchres, full of dead men's bones", "robbers of widows and orphans, and 
oppressors of the poor"; and as though He would have them fight for the kingdom He had sent 
them to preach, He told those who had not swords "to sell their coats and buy one". But oh! how 
changed in feeling, when He, on the cross, could realize the enormity of their guilt and the 
greater sufferings consequent to them, and then with heart melted in pity for His murderers and 
those that hated Him, He cried to His Father with entreaty that they be forgiven. 

And just such phases, to a degree, have I witnessed in the life and character of our great Prophet, 
who stood in the presence of both the Father and the Son and personally conversed with them 
both; being often visited by Holy Angels, while continually receiving by revelation the word of 
the Lord to His people. And yet he was altogether of "like passions with his brethren and 

"As a son, he was nobility itself, in love and honor of his parents; as a brother he was loving and 
true, even unto death; as a husband and father, his devotion to wives and children stopped only at 

idolatry. And his life's greatest motto after v God and His Kingdom' was that of v wives, children 
and friends'". And on one Sunday morning while sitting with him in the Mansion dining room in 
private converse, two of Emma's children came to him, as just from their mother, all so nice, 
bright and sweet, and calling to them my attention, he said, "Benjamin, look at these children, 
how could I help loving their mother; if necessary, I would go to hell for such a woman." And 
although at the time he had in the Mansion other wives, younger and apparently more brilliant, 
yet Emma, the wife of his youth, to me, appeared the queen of his heart and of his home. 

But to return: Joseph the Prophet, as a friend he was faithful, long suffering, noble and true to the 
degree that the erring who did love him were at times reminded that the rod of a friend was better 
than the kiss of an enemy, "while others who sopped in his dish" but bore not reproof, became his 
enemies, and like Laws, Marks, Foster, Higby and others— who hated him and conspired to his 

As a companion, socially, he was highly endowed; was kind, generous, mirth loving, and at 
times, even convivial. He was partial to a well supplied table and he did not always refuse the 
wine that "maketh glad the heart". For amusement, he would sometimes wrestle with a friend, or 
oftener would test strength with others by sitting on the floor with feet together and stick grasped 
between them, but he never found his match. Jokes, 

rebuses, matching couplets in rhymes, etc., were not uncommon. But to call for the singing of 
one or more of his favorite songs was more frequent. Of those, "Wife, Children and Friends", 
"Battle of River Russen", "Soldiers' Tear", "Soldier's Dream" and "Last Rose of Summer", were 
most common. And yet, although so social and even convivial at times, he would allow no 
arrogance or undue liberties, and criticism, even by his associates, was rarely acceptable, and 
contradiction would rouse in him the lion at once, for by no one of his fellows would he be 
superseded or disputed and in the early days at Kirtland, and elsewhere one or more of his 
associates were more than once, for their impudence, helped from the congregation by his 
(Joseph's) foot, and at one time at a meeting at Kirtland, for insolence to him, he soundly 
thrashed his brother William who boasted himself as invincible. And while with him in such 
fraternal, social and sometimes convivial moods, we could not then so fully realize the greatness 
and majesty of his calling, which, since his martyrdom, has continued to magnify in our lives, as 
the glories of this last dispensation more fully unfold to our comprehension. 

One small incident, among the many, I will relate to show his playful, familiar, kind and loving 
nature toward one who to him was as a protege or a younger brother. Soon after the Prophet's 
escape from Missouri and arrival at Old "Commerce," the future Nauvoo, in 1839, 1 was with 
him. The people had flocked in from the terrible exposures of the past and nearly every one was 
sick with intermittent or other fevers, of which many died. In this time of great sickness, poverty 
and death, the Prophet called his brother, Don Carlos, and cousin, G. A. Smith, as missionaries to 
administer to and comfort the people. And there being there two young Botanic medical students 
Doctors Wiley and Pendleton, he called them to prescribe medicine, and called me to follow and 
take general oversight and care of all the sick, which for weeks, I did, without even one night of 

respite for sleep. The forepart of September, Dr. Wiley became sick unto death, which soon 
occurred, after which the Prophet too had a violent attack of the prevailing sickness. And as 
Emma was in no degree able to care for him, it wholly developed upon me, and both day and 
night, through a period of little less than two weeks I was hardly absent from his room; as almost 
his only food was gruel, and about the only treatment he would accept was a flush of the colon 
with warm water perhaps tinctured slightly with capsicum and myrrh, or a little soda and salt, 
both of which were prepared and administered by me in the room he occupied; and if any sleep 
came to me it was while lying upon his bed or sitting in my chair. At the termination of this 
sickness and fasting, he arose from his bed like a lion, or as a giant refreshed with wine. He went 
to President Rigdon with great reproof, commanding him and his house to repent; and called for 
a skiff, crossed the river, and finding Elijah Fordham in death's struggle, he commanded him to 
arise, which he did at once, and was made whole as also were others by his administrations. 

But I am writing at too great length. Soon after the Prophet's recovery I too came apparently nigh 
unto death through a violent attack of the fever, through which my comfort was kindly looked 
after by the Prophet. 

About the middle of October a letter came to say that my dear mother and young sister were 
apparently near to death, in Springfield Illinois, and were anxious for my return. And in my 
anxiety again to see my mother, I procured quinine, which was just becoming known as an 
antidote for fevers and taking it in large doses, my fever soon abated, and under it's tonic 
influence I fancied I had become well, and in great kindred at Springfield. My horse was in the 
yard ready to mount, but I wished to take leave of the Prophet, with the hope again to receive his 
blessing. Of the whole sum I had obtained with which to pay for an outfit and passage to 
England, with the twelve, when they should start, to which I had been called by the June 
Conference at Quincy, "I had but one ten dollar bill, I said, "As this is all I have left, I went to pay 
a tithe of it." He saw I was weak in body and that my heart was sad in leaving him, so thinking to 
cheer and arouse me, when putting the nine silver dollars in my hand he playfully knocked my 
hand upward, and scattering the money all over the room. My heart was so full of tears, and my 
emotions must have vent, so forgetting all but the feeling that we were boy companions playing 
together, I sprang at and grappled him, as though to teach him a lesson, but the lesson was all to 
me, for on making one grand effort to throw him, I found myself in strength no more than a 
bulrush as compared with him, and as my strength was fictitious and my real recovery was but 
illusion, collapsed and fainted in his arms. He placed me in repose, and did all necessary for my 
restoration and comfort. Then gathering up the scattered money, and after a period of delay, 
weak, trembling and desolate, yet determined to start, I led my horse to the other gate and as I 
was passing through, with the bridle on my arm, his hand detained me, and placing his hands 
upon my head, he seemed to pour out his soul in blessing me. He told the Lord I had been faithful 
to care for others, that I was now worn and sick, and that on my journey I would need his care, 
and he asked that a special guardian might go with me from that day and stay with me through all 
my life. And oh! my dear brother, how often have I seen through life and footprints of that angel, 
and knew that his hand had drawn me back from death. 

The day after leaving Nauvoo my fever returned with all of its virulence. The next day, near 
night, I was found by the Prophet's brother William, lying helpless by the roadside, and the next 
evening I was found by strangers, being unconscious in the road, who kindly cared for me until I 
could again get upon my horse to finish the journey to my mother in Springfield, where I soon 
arrived, and remained very sick until Apostles Young and Kimball came in January to find me 
apparently nigh unto death with hemorrhage of the bowels. At leaving, they told me to take a 
mission East so soon as able to start, which I did through kindness of Brother James Standing, 
who, upon my bed in a sleigh took me a hundred and ten miles to Paris, Illinois. Turning home 
on bare ground, he left me in deep mud, alone, and near penniless, sick and among strangers, 
while borne to the earth by a burden of bashful ignorance— the long green of young manhood; 
but my "Angel" was always with me to open the way. 

Now you see how I have wandered from the subject of your "Three Keys," but you said you 
wanted to learn more of my history and personalities, so what I have written may serve as a 
glimpse of my earlier life. 

Now, returning to the subject, shall I tell you that just the other day at Quarterly Conference one 
of our best missionary speakers was led to say that "our Gospel was revealed as a whole, and not 
fragmentary", and I felt to tell him that the Gospel had not only been given to us by fragments, 
but that of the great science of Eternal Lives, we have not yet received or learned more than it's 
alphabet; and perfection here can only exist in parts or degrees. And while the Holy Ghost may 
not always remain upon a man, may not even a prophet to whom it was not yet all revealed, make 
mistakes, as in the baptism for the dead, and also in the prophet sermon at the funerals of a child 
of Winzor Lyon and King Follett, when he preached that children, "even infants, would sit upon 
thrones with dominion," which was published in the "Times and Seasons" at the time, but which, 
like President Woodruff, I am positive he afterwards reconsidered. And those who were with him 
in Kirtland, Missouri and Nauvoo, will remember many things in which his sanguine and 
prophetic hopes seemed disappointed. 

The Prophet Joseph laid the foundation of our Church in a military spirit, and as the Master 
taught His disciples, so he taught us to "sell our coat and buy swords", but never did the sword 
fully prevail with us, not even with the Indians, and never before were we apparently so safe 
from them, or our outside enemies, as since the Lord, through the government, permitted us to be 
robbed of armed self protection; and even our mission martyrs have generally been murdered 
after a show of resistance. And are we not beginning to see that charity is the life and core of our 
religion? and that love is the great life spring and centrifugal power of the universe, and in our 
gospel there appears no place for hate or resentment,— not even towards those that would nail us 
to the cross. 

Yet neither in Kirtland, Missouri or Nauvoo, did we fully comply with this rule, and even in Utah 
many were left to cherish toward our poor lamanite brethren, vindictiveness and hate; and in 
Missouri by Apostle Lyman Wight we were taught to "pray for our enemies," that God would 

damn them, and "give us power to kill them". And while "three witnesses" with his counsellors 
and many of the apostles with their president, as also many others of our leading men, had turned 
their "heel against the Prophet, how could he, in such disunion and enmity, always be strong in 
the might of his calling? And as the "eyes" of the Church, betrayed by those he loved who had so 
often "sopped with him" when there was little in the dish, under such disappointment and sorrow, 
may he not have been blinded even by his tears? 

Jesus spent His life in teaching His disciples, and yet they did not understand Him or His 
doctrine. And although He spent a long period after His resurrection in teaching them of the 
"common salvation," and although His last word to them was a command to "baptize all nations" 
yet Peter, the chief Apostle, had not yet swallowed it; and the Lord had at last to choke it down 
him, through his vision upon the housetop. And even after that, Paul "withstood" his partiality for 
the old law. 

And now of your third Key, I do not feel to say much, as I fear I am writing in too great 
profusion, and that what I have written you will deem as of little worth. But from my standpoint 
of view, I can see that we have been in evolution since from before the world was, and that we 
were never without our agency, and never will be, unless we become the sons of Perdition, and 
that through our voluntary doings, or our failing to do. We fore-ordained, or elected ourselves to 
just the condition in which we were placed, on earth; and we are now, through our works of good 
or evil, ordaining ourselves to the good or evil that awaits us in the great future. And I see that 
only through darkness do we comprehend the light, and that by their opposite do we comprehend 
the attributes and exaltation of the Gods. And just as we know love and care for our little 
children and forsee effects to them from causes, and have a purpose beyond their comprehension 
for their good, just so our Father has a purpose in everything relating to our condition here, for 
we are not here by accident or mistake, and that "all things must work to the good of those who 
fear God" and evolute in the "upward and onward"; and so I will thus leave your third key. 

And then you would have "further truths from the teachings of the Prophet". And where shall I 
commence? And how shall I write to your understanding even the little I may have retained in 
memory? You will not forget that the march in science through the last seventy years has in many 
things reversed the world's thought, changed its modes and almost its face, and is fast exploding 
the dogmas of outside theology. Well, the keys to all this knowledge were first committed to the 
Prophet Joseph, as a part of the gospel, for the world's benefit, for all of which he was derided. 
He was the first in this age to teach "substantialism", the eternity of matter, that no part or 
particle of the great universe could become annihilated or destroyed; that light and life and spirit 
were one; that all light and heat are the "Glory of God", which is his power, that fills the 
"immensity of space", and is the life of all things, and permeates with latent life, and heat, every 
particle of which all worlds are composed; that light or spirit, and matter, are the two first great 
primary principles of the universe, or of Being; that they are self-existent, co-existent, 
indestructible, and eternal, and from these two elements both our spirits and our bodies were 
formulated, and he gave us to understand that there were twelve kingdoms, or planets, revolving 

around our solar system, to which the Lord gave an equal division of His time or ministry and 
that now was His time to again visit the earth. He taught that all systems of worlds were in 
revolution, the lesser around the greater. He taught that all the animal kingdoms would be 
resurrected, and made us understand that they would remain in the dominion of those who, with 
creative power, reach out for dominion, through the power of eternal lives. He taught us that the 
saints would fill the great West, and through Mexico, Central and South America we would do a 
great work for the redemption of the remnant of Jacob. Of what he taught us relating to the 
Kingdom of God, as it would become organized upon the earth through "all nations learning war 
no more", and all adopting the God-given constitution of the United States as a Palladium of 
Liberty and Equal Rights. 

But this, of itself, would require a long chapter, which must wait until the fulfillment of a 
prediction by the Prophet, relating to a "Testimony that I should bear, after I had become hoary 
with age, of things which he that day taught to the circle of friends then around him," of whom I 
am the only one living. So here I will leave this subject for your further interrogations, and 
proceed to give you, so far as I can remember the Prophet Joseph's last charge to the Quorum of 
the Twelve Apostles. 

It was at Nauvoo early in 1844 in an assembly room, common to the meeting of the Council, or a 
select circle of the Prophet's most trusted friends, including all the Twelve, but not all the 
constituted authorities of the Church, for Presidents Rigdon, Law or Marks, the High Council nor 
Presidents of Quorums were not members of that council, which at times would exceed fifty in 
number. Its sittings were always strictly private, and all its rules were carefully and promptly 
observed and although its meetings were at times oftener than monthly and my home at Ramus 
over twenty miles distant, I was present at every session, and being about the youngest member 
of the council, I was deeply impressed with all that transpired, or was taught by the Prophet. 

Criticism had already commenced by those near him in authority with regard to his teachings and 
his doing. And we began now, in a degree, to understand the meaning of what he had so often 
publicly said, that "should he teach and practice the principles that the Lord had revealed to him, 
and now requested of him, that those then nearest him in the stand would become his enemies 
and the first to seek his life"; which they soon did, just as he had foretold. And to show you that 
under conditions then existing that the Prophet did not really desire longer to live, and that you 
may see how my mind was in a degree prepared for after results, I will briefly relate an incident 
that occurred at his last visit to us at Ramus. 

After he had at evening preached with great animation to a large congregation and had blessed 
nineteen children, he turned to me and said, "Benjamin, I am tired, let us go home", which only a 
block distant, we soon reached, and entering we found a warm fire with a large chair in front, and 
my wife sitting near with her babe, our eldest, upon her lap, and approaching her, I said, "Now, 
Melissa, see what we have lost by your not going to meeting, Brother Joseph has blessed all the 
children in the place but ours, and it is left out in the cold." But the Prophet at once said, "You 
shall lose nothing", and he proceeded to bless our first born, and then, with a deep drawn breath 

as a sigh of weariness, he sank down heavily in his chair, and said, "Oh! I do get so tired and 
weary, that at times I almost yearn for my rest", and then proceeded briefly to recount to us some 
of the most stirring events of his life's labors, suffering and sacrifices, and then he said, "I am 
getting tired and would like to go to my rest." His words and tone thrilled and shocked me, and 
like an arrow pierced my hopes that he would long remain with us, and I said, as with a heart full 
of tears, "Oh! Joseph, what could we, as a people do without you? and what would become of the 
great Latter-day work if you should leave us?" He saw and was touched by my emotions, and in 
reply he said, "Benjamin, I should not be far away from you, and if on the other side of the veil I 
should still be working with you, and with a power greatly increased, to roll on this kingdom." 
And such was the tone, earnestness and pathos of his words to me then, that they can never be 
fully recalled but with emotion. 

And now before fully returning to the council and subject in connection with the above, I will 
relate a dream told to us in council by the Prophet but a short time before his death, which was as 
follows: "I dreamed that by the Laws, Marks, Higby's and Fosters, I was bound; both hand and 
foot and cast into a deep well, soon after which I heard screams of terror and cries of" Oh! 
Brother Joseph, save us, save us!" This cry continued until with my elbows and toes I had 
worked my way to the top, and looking out, I saw all of those who had bound me within the folds 
of a terrible serpent, that was preparing to swallow them, and I told them that as they had bound 
me, I could render them no assistance." This dream made upon my mind an impression never 
forgotten, and just as he related it, so it was fulfilled in his death; for those were the men that 
opened the way for his assassination. 

And now returning to the council and the "Last Charge." Let us remember that by revelation he 
had reorganized the Holy Priesthood, and by command of the Lord (D&C 124 and D&C 123) 
had taken from the First Presidency his brother Hyrum to hold as Patriarch, the sealing power, 
the first and highest honor due to priesthood; that he had turned the keys of endowments, to the 
last anointing, and sealing together with keys of Salvation for the dead, with the eternity of the 
marriage covenant and the power of endless lives. All these keys he held, and under these then 
existing conditions he stood before that association of his select friends, including all the Twelve, 
and with great feeling and animation he graphically reviewed his life of persecution, labor and 
sacrifice for the church and kingdom of God, both of which he declared were now organized 
upon the earth. The burden of which had become too great for him longer to carry, that he was 
weary and tired with the weight he so long had borne, and he then said, with great vehemence: 
"And in the name of the Lord, I now shake from my shoulders the responsibilities of bearing off 
the Kingdom of God to all the world, and here and now I place that responsibility, with all the 
keys, powers and privileges pertaining thereto, upon the shoulders of you the Twelve Apostles, in 
connection with this council; and if you will accept this, to do it, God shall bless you mightily 
and shall open your way; and if you do it I now shake my garments clear and free from the blood 
of this generation and of all men"; and shaking his skirt with great vehemence he raised himself 
from the floor, while the spirit that accompanied his words thrilled every heart as with a feeling 
that boded bereavement and sorrow. 

And now, my dear brother, after 60 years have passed, at 85 in age, I bear to you and to all the 
world a solemn testimony of the truth and veracity of what I have written above, for although so 
many years have intervened, they are still in my mind, as fresh as when they occurred; no doubt 
as a part fulfillment of a prediction by the Prophet relating to "testimonies I should bear of his 
teachings, after I had become hoary with age." 

There were, dear brother, other teachings to that council, of which I am not at full liberty to write, 
but if I had your ear, I would remember that the Prophet once said to me: "Benjamin, in regard to 
those things I have taught you privately, that are not yet for the public, I give you the right when 
you are so led, to commit them to others, for you will not be led wrong in discerning those 
worthy of your confidence." 

And now to your question, "How early did the Prophet Joseph practice polygamy?" I hardly 
know how wisely to reply, for the truth at times may be better withheld; but as what I am writing 
is to be published only under strict scrutiny of the wisest, I will say, that the revelation [D&C 
132] to the Church at Nauvoo, July 21, 1843, on the Eternity of the Marriage Covenant and the 
Law of Plural Marriage, was not the first revelation of the law received and practiced by the 
Prophet. In 1835, at Rutland, I learned from my sister's husband, Lyman R. Sherman, who was 
close to the Prophet, and received it from him, "that the ancient order of Plural Marriage was 
again to be practiced by the Church." This at the time, did not impress my mind deeply, although 
there then lived with his family a neighbor's daughter, Fannie Alger, a very nice and comely 
young woman about my own age, toward whom not only myself, but every one, seemed partial 
for the amiability of her character; and it was whispered even then that Joseph loved her. After 
this, there was some trouble with Jared Carter, and through Brother Sherman I learned that "as he 
had built himself a new house, he now wanted another wife", which Joseph would not permit. 

And then there was some trouble with Oliver Cowdery, and whisper said it was relating to a girl 
then living in his family; and I was afterwards told by Warren Parish, that he himself and Oliver 
Cowdery did know that Joseph had Fannie Alger as a wife, for they were spied upon and found 
together. And I can now see that as at Nauvoo, so at Kirtland, that the suspicion or knowledge of 
the Prophet's plural relation was one of the causes of apostasy and disruption at Kirtland although 
at the time there was little said publicly on the subject. 

Soon after the Prophet's flight in winter of 1837 and 1838, the Alger family left for the West and 
stopping in Indiana for a time Fannie soon married to one of the citizens there, and although she 
never left the state, she did not turn from the Church nor from her friendship with the Prophet 
while she lived. 

And now, looking back through the stirring adventures and incidents of thrilling experience of 
the four years that followed, from 1838 to 1843, such as accompanying the "Kirtland Poor 
Camp", and arriving in Missouri just in time to take in all the experience of that period, such as 
imprisonment in Wilson's camp with for many days— the Hauns Mill and McBride murderers as 
my guards, my wonderful escape and preservation, and my return the following summer to meet 

the Prophet at Nauvoo, with the terrible sickness that followed, both with others and myself; after 
which a two and a half year's mission to Canada and Middle States, all so full of change and 
thrilling incidents that all past experience of my life seemed as partly swallowed up or forgotten, 
but on meeting the Prophet at my return to Nauvoo, in June, 1842, he greeted me with great 
warmth, and almost at once installed me as his legal agent, with the right to use his name as I 
might be led in business transactions, especially as related to the Church lands and town property 
of Ramus, all of which were placed by my charge. 

And now, in visiting my sister, the widow of Lyman R. Sherman, who died a martyr to the 
conditions at Far West, I found with her a former acquaintance, Sister Louisa Beeman, and I saw 
from appearances that they were both in his care, and that he provided for their comfort; and as I 
was held closely to business, and my home at Ramus was twenty miles distant, I saw but little of 
them until after the Prophet, in early spring of 1843, had come to Ramus to teach me plural 
marriage, and to ask my other sisters to be his wives, an account of which I have heretofore given 
by sworn statement but will here repeat as it occurred. 

It was Sunday morning, April 3rd or 4th, 1843, that the Prophet was at my home in Ramus, and 
after breakfast he proposed a stroll together, and taking his arm, our walk led toward a swail, 
surrounded by trees and tall brush and near the forest line not far from my house. Through the 
swail ran a small spring brook, across which a tree was fallen and was clean of its bark. On this 
we sat down and the Prophet proceeded at once to open to me the subject of plural and eternal 
marriage and he said that years ago in Kirtland the Lord had revealed to him the ancient order of 
plural marriage, and the necessity for its practice, and did command him then to take another 
wife, and that among his first thoughts was to come to my mother for some of her daughters. And 
as he was again required of the Lord to take more wives, he had come now to ask me for my 
sister Almira. 

My words astonished me and almost took my breath. I sat for a time amazed and finally, almost 
ready to burst with emotion, I looked him straight in the face and said: "Brother Joseph, this is 
something I did not expect, and I do not understand it. You know whether it is right, I do not. I 
want to do just as you tell me, and I will try, but if I ever should know that you do this to 
dishonor and debauch my sister, I will kill you as sure as the Lord lives." And while his eyes did 
not move from mine, he said with a smile, in a soft tone: "But Benjamin you will never know 
that, but you will know the principle in time, and will greatly rejoice in what it will bring to you." 
"But how," I asked, "Can I teach my sister what I myself do not understand, or show her what I 
do not myself see?" "But you will see and understand it," he said, "And when you open your 
mouth to talk to your sister, light will come to you and your mouth will be full and your tongue 
loose, and I will today preach a sermon to you that none but you will understand." Both of these 
promises were more than fulfilled. The text of his sermon was our use of the "one, five and ten 
talents," and as God had now commanded plural marriage, and was exaltation and dominion of 
the saints depended upon the number of their righteous posterity, from him who was then but 
with one talent, it would be taken and given him that had ten, which item of doctrine seems now 

to be somewhat differently constructed. 

But my thought and wish is to write of things just as they occurred, and I now bear an earnest 
testimony that his other prediction was more than fulfilled, for when with great hesitation and 
stammering I called my sister to a private audience, and stood before her shaking with fear, just 
so soon as I found power to open my mouth, it was filled, for the light of the Lord shone upon my 
understanding, and the subject that had seemed so dark now appeared of all subjects pertaining to 
our gospel the most lucid and plain; and so both my sister and myself were converted together, 
and never again did I need evidence or argument to sustain that high and holy principle. And 
within a few days of this period my sister accompanied me to Nauvoo, where at our sister 
Delcena's, we soon met the Prophet with his brother Hyrum and Wm. Clayton, as his private 
secretary, who always accompanied him. Brother Hyrum at once took me in hand, apparently in 
fear I was not fully converted, and this was the manner of his talk to me: "Now Benjamin, you 
must not be afraid of this new doctrine, for it is all right. You know Brother Hyrum don't get 
carried away by worldly things, and he fought this principle until the Lord showed him it was 
true. I know that Joseph was commanded to take more wives, and he waited until an angel with a 
drawn sword stood before him and declared that if he longer delayed fulfilling that command he 
would slay him." This was the manner of Brother Hyrum's teaching to me, which I then did not 
need, as I was fully converted. 

Meanwhile, the Prophet, with Louisa Beeman and my sister Delcena, had it agreeable arranged 
with Sister Almera, and after a little instruction she stood by the Prophet's side and was sealed to 
him as a wife, by Brother Clayton; after which the Prophet asked me to take my sister to occupy 
number "10" in his Mansion home during her stay in the city. But as I could not long be absent 
from my home and business, we soon returned to Ramus, where on the 15th of May, some three 
weeks later, the Prophet again came and at my house occupied the same room and bed with my 
sister, that the month previous he had occupied with the daughter of the late Bishop Partridge, as 
his wife. 

And at this time he sealed to me my first wife for eternity, and gave to me my first plural wife, 
Mary Ann Hale, an orphan girl raised by my mother then living with us, who is still with me, and 
is probably the only wife still living with the man to whom she was given by the Prophet. 

At the marriage of Sister Almera to the Prophet, there was still our youngest sister, for whom he 
manifest partiality, and would gladly have married, also, but she being young and partially 
promised to my first wife's brother, although reluctantly, the matter by him was dropped. 

On learning from the Prophet that even in Kirtland "the Lord had required him to take plural 
wives, and that he had then thought to ask for some of my sister,s" the past with its conditions 
and influences began more fully to unfold to my mind, the causes that must, at least in part, have 
led to the great apostasy and disruption in Kirtland. Without a doubt in my mind, Fanny Alger 
was, at Kirtland, the Prophet's first plural wife, in which, by right of his calling, he was justified 
of the Lord (see D&C 132:59-60); while Oliver Cowdery, J. Carter, W. Parish, or others were not 

justified of the Lord either in their criticisms upon the doings of the Prophet, or in their becoming 
a "law unto themselves," through which they lost the light of their calling and were left in 

Fanny A., when asked by her brother and others, even after the Prophet's death, regarding her 
relations to him, replied: "That is all a matter of our own, and I have nothing to communicate." 
Her parents died in Utah, true to the church. And to my knowledge, was by President Kimball in 
the temple at St. George introduced as "Brother of the Prophet Joseph's first plural wife." 

The marriage of my eldest sister to the Prophet was before my return to Nauvoo, and it being 
tacitly admitted, I asked no questions. 

And as to the number that came into the plural order, before the Prophet's death, I can think of 
but five, whose names I will not now attempt to recall, but the number soon after his death began 
to increase. But on the finishing of the Temple, with endowments that followed, the number was 
greatly augmented. And so there was at least a "few who had accepted" and practiced plural 
marriage from about 1842 to 1852, when the revelation was published to the world. 

"How generally was polygamy practiced in Utah?" is a question that I am not qualified to answer, 
but from my narrow observation, I would "guess" that one-tenth of our church men married 
plurally, and that two-thirds of that number made a fair success in raising good families, and that 
the other third was more or less a failure. But my judgment is not to be fully relied upon. 

Of the number of plural marriages in Joseph's day, I have already said of men there was but few, 
comprising the Prophet and part of the twelve, with a few others who were his confidential or 
bosom friends. 

You ask if plural marriage was ever Mandatory? If you mean by the Lord then I say yes; for it 
was by command to the Prophet from the first. But from the Prophet to the people, it came as 
counsel, which when personally given, was not always heeded. But no one who lived worthy of 
his priesthood and calling was deprived of a right to plural marriage. And just as it was a "happy 
privilege" for us in poverty and self-sacrifice to have our homes to preach the gospel, or to fill 
any calling in labors of love and charity for the salvation of the Father's children, thereby to learn 
their gratitude and love as our reward just so it was a privilege. For how do we attain to real 
happiness but in administering happiness to others? 

The first command was to "multiply" and the Prophet taught us that dominion and power in the 
Great Future would be commensurate with the number of "wives, children and friends" that we 
inherit here, and that our mission to the earth was to organize a nuclei of Heaven, to take with us, 
to the increase of which there would be no end. 

And while I can believe that to some plural marriage was a great cross, yet I cannot say so from 
my own experience, for although in times that tried men's hearts, I married seven wives, I was, 
blessed with the gift to love them all; and although providing for so many was attended with 

great labor, care and anxiety, yet there was sympathy and love as my reward. And there is not one 
of my children of their mothers that are not dearer to me still than life. 

On my return in 1855 from a mission to the Sandwich Isles, I found that Santaquin Utah, with the 
homes of my family and all that I possessed to the amount of thousands was destroyed or stolen, 
by Indians in the Walker War, and my family homeless. And yet in 1856, although conditions 
appeared forbidding, council suggested that I take other wives; and feeling sure it was the voice 
of the Lord to me, with promise of His blessing, so I married three more young wives, which was 
followed by cricket and locust raids to destroy nearly all our crops for five years, and yet we were 
neither hungry or naked. These were days that tried the souls of both men and women, and yet 
the love and gratitude of any one of my children today more than repays all, and I know that both 
men and women in plural marriage were happy in the assurance that they were obeying the 
command of God and the council of His servants. 

And without the consent and approbation of him who held the keys of that priesthood, no one 
had the right even to speak upon the subject of plural marriage to the women he would marry, 
and even then, he ought first to obtain consent of her parents before having the right to speak to 
her upon the subject. And this was ever the law so far as I understand it. And for all plural 
marriages or sealings there was the one only that held this right, which he, if necessary, could 
delegate to others. 

And then with regard to a man's right to take a second wife without the knowledge and consent 
of the first, I will only say, if his first wife be like the Sarah of old, there would be no such 
necessity, but if other wives, then see D&C 132:64-65. 

And now your question as to the cause of the early persecutions of the Saints. To answer this 
question, we should go back to its inception to find cause for the hate that is ever behind to incite 
persecution. Between the present and former dispensations there is a striking analogy. Jesus 
appeared to the learned, haughty, dignified and opulent Jews as the "poor illiterate carpenter's son 
of Nazareth", a despised "Galilean," who claimed to be the son of the Highest, the Great Jehovah, 
that "without him there was nothing made that was made," that he held "all power both in 
Heaven and on Earth," that he could "destroy the temple and rear it up in three days," etc. while 
the multitude turned from them to follow Him the "lowly Nazarene," hence their envy and 
jealousy which ripened into hate and in their nailing Him as a malefactor to the cross, and just so 
it has been in our day. 

Joseph Smith, of lowly birth, a farm boy of common class, poor, illiterate and without distinction 
other than being religiously inclined; he attended revivals, was in these anxious circles honestly 
seeking religion and to learn which was the right church; and calling upon the Lord in simple 
faith that he might know. Both the Father and the Son in a pillar of light descended, and in 
teaching him commanded that "he join no religious sect, as their creeds were all an abomination 
in His sight." 

And this blow, by an ignorant son of poverty at fourteen years of age, in the face of all 

Christendom, was an insult to the dignity of all priestly learning, greatness and wealth; with all 
their millions in Bible, missionary and other societies for converting the world, all their greatness 
defied and denounced by an ignorant boy, their contempt led to hatred and persecution. And 
when that same boy became a man, he claimed having revelations, and that an angel had 
delivered to him golden plates containing the history of a fallen people, and that God, through 
him was about to restore the ancient gospel in its purity, which, if true, would blot out all their 
greatness. And so inspired by hate, they made lies their weapons with which to fight the truth; 
both of which are attributes of the devil, whose servants they were, as "blind leaders of the 
blind." The leaders blinded by envy, jealousy, self interest and hate while the multitude were 
blinded by the popular prejudice and cry of "away with them"; and all going together to the pit; 
just as the Master saw, and upon the cross "prayed His Father to forgive them as they knew not 
what they did." Our Prophet Joseph like the Master, was held in contempt by learned priests, 
bigots and hypocrites, and like Him, was scorned, despised, and derided by the rich; and by all 
Christendom was hated without cause, and persecuted unto death by those who would not know 

It is true that the Prophet seemed to lay the foundation of our Church with a military spirit, and 
so, unlike the present, he taught us resistance to all oppression; to defend our liberties with the 
sword. But I can now see as the temple of truth and love is built higher by the Master's hand that 
resentment brought to us only calamity and the reverse of our hopes. And I can also see now that 
unnecessary offences were at times given to strengthen the prejudice or hate of our enemies; for 
that was the infancy of the Church and its days of child-like enthusiasm and great hopes. And at 
times, no doubt, leading elders made child-like boasts to irritate our enemies. 

But of that period and experience, as compared with today, you can realize but little, and so I do 
not marvel at your criticisms upon the common manner of disposing of the question of "causes," 
for all is now so changed. 

And as since, before 1830 the Lord began, through the Prophet Joseph, to turn the keys of 
knowledge to flood the world with new light and life, or to plant in the "three measures of meal" 
that "leaven" through which all the world will yet become "leavened", which has since its 
inception been working in the world's thought to produce great change, politically, religiously, 
socially, financially and scientifically— the increased light that came to earth through the keys of 
knowledge turned by the Prophet Joseph for which he was derided, hated, and killed, but towards 
which all searching eyes of inquiry are now turning with new thoughts leading towards the great 
truths of the gospel. 

While many principles of our religion are being counterfeited by the world to throw dust in the 
eyes of the thoughtless, that they may not discover that this is the great day of "God's 
preparation" for regenerating the earth with a Zion for its Capital City. 

"The Prophet and his hobbies," The Prophet fully realized that arrayed against him, or the truth, 
was combined all the religious, political, financial, educational and social powers of the world. 

And all this power he had to meet with wisdom that came alone from God. He had no time or 
place for "hobbies", but stood boldly to defend the truth with such weapons and helps as came to 
him of the Lord. 

P. P. Pratt, through his "Voice of Warning to all the people," published at an early day in 
Kirtland, was a primary exponent of the Prophet's theology. And the Prophet's reply to journalists 
who early, in Nauvoo, asked him for a copy of the "Mormon creed" has since become our 
"articles of Faith." And if the Prophet did have a "hobby" it was to provide for the poor and to 
defend the liberties of the people, for when he organized the Nauvoo Legion, and for which he 
laid down his life. And the principle of his government or influence over his people is explained 
in his reply to a church dignitary, I think a Catholic Bishop, who at Nauvoo Mansion asked him 
"by what power he governed so great a people?" He replied, "I do not govern them, I teach them 
correct principles and they govern themselves," which was a "hobby", if he had any. 

"The Prophet's teaching of love" was not to work upon the sympathies and sensibilities of the 
people, but by his great example and self-sacrifice, and in showing us that while all the world 
were against us, our only hope was in our union, and that union was only possible as the fruit of 
our love, for each other. And in teaching us the "Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of 
Man," we could begin to see why we should "love God supremely, and our brother as ourselves." 
He taught us that God was the great head of human procreation— was really and truly the father 
of both our spirits and our bodies; that we were but parts of a great whole, mutually and equally 
dependent upon each other, according to our conditions. And in our love of God we show, as do 
the members of our bodies, naturally a greater love and protection for our head. But this 
reasoning could not be fully understood by all, and as I have said before, in the infancy of the 
church, our minds and views were more narrow, and we were more petulant, resentful and 
perhaps more vindictive then than now, that the principles of charity and love are seen to be the 
life spring and core principle of our gospel. And now that we see the temple of charity, union and 
love, reared above its foundation, once guarded by the "Nauvoo Legion," commanded by the 
Traitor, "Joab, General in Israel," we are led to feel that those were the days of childhood's 
mistakes, yet all leading to great purposes as was the call of Judas to the apostleship. And we are 
as a people today, in wisdom, stature and power with God, just what we have grown to be 
through accumulating experience in the Father's care. 

"Early day marriage among the Saints." Replying to your question, relating to early day marriages 
in the Church, I will say, that there were no arbitrary rules relating to marriage, other than that the 
ceremony be in strict accordance with statute law of the state. And as no one of the elders at a 
very early day took to themselves the right to perform that ceremony, it was left to the Justice of 
the Peace, until Elder Seymour Brunson at Kirtland, assumed that prerogative and was patronized 
until others followed his example; and I remember of no marriage by the Prophet until at 
Nauvoo. And for marrying with the outside, the rule from the first was as now, strongly against it 
by council, but tolerant as to common fellowship, while all the wise understand that such 
marriage is of no eternal worth. 

In reply to your question on Early proselyting and attitude of the Church toward other 
denominations, "I must say again, that in the rise of the Church all advantages of wealth, 
education and popularity were with our enemies; while the few poor, unlearned elders, called of 
the Lord, were at every disadvantage. But in having the truth and a trust in the Lord, and they at 
times, through their faith and zeal, enthused by the spirit of their callings, were led to use the 
gospel truths as a battering ram, to demolish creeds and hypocracy, as fabrics "built upon the 
sand," instead of first rearing in view of all the gospel temple of truth and love, as a home of 
refuge for the honest in heart, when their houses built upon the "sand" should fall. 

And our labors then were perhaps not always in the wisdom and charity that the experience and 
learning of subsequent years has brought. And in proportion as we were derided, persecuted and 
held in contempt by a hireling priesthood, whose creeds we knew were but an abomination, and 
all their ministry but frauds, and so we regarded their show of sincerity as hallow mockery and 
pretence, all for popularity or gain. And of all the sects, we regarded the Catholic church as the 
great head of priestcraft and hypocracy. And so far as I am personally concerned, I am hardly rid 
of that view and feeling yet, that they are really but "garnished sepulchers" filled with the bones 
of a dead and rotten past. 

And right here a full chapter could be written of young men, who, while yet but boys, went forth 
in ignorance, and through their humility and in the spirit of their calling, soon became mighty 
both in word and in deed, and for a season would be as brilliant stars of our hopes, but through 
forgetting the Lord, in remembrance of their own greatness, too many, like bright meteors, sank 
from sight to rise no more, in fulfillment of His word that "no flesh should glory in His 
presence"; while others, trusting in their own strength, were led into sins and were swallowed up 
in their transgressions, after a labor in faithfulness for a season. 

"Pioneers and Oregon." With others, from the Prophet at an early day, I took in the idea of our 
pioneering or exploring, to find somewhere in the west a place of safety for the Church. And 
while some thoughts would be of valleys in the mountains, an oasis in the "Great American 
Desert," others did talk of Oregon, but not in the Prophet's day did any properly organized 
company start. But at his death the star of our hope for a home of peace began more plainly to 
rise in the Great West, somewhere to be found. But where, we knew not. Among the speculations 
as to where, Oregon was talked of, and then of Van Couver's Island, which, with its great 
advantages for Mormon safety from persecution, was pointed out by our professed friend 
Stephen A. Douglas, who came to the Nauvoo Mansion in 1845, then kept open by myself, soon 
after which the praises of Upper California began to be rehearsed and sung. But by Brigham 
Young, to my knowledge, there was never a pointer given as to our destination as a people. And 
although in organizing the Pioneer Emigration, I was appointed captain of fifty wagons, and was 
among the first to cross the Mississippi, and camped on Sugar Creek, I yet heard no suggestion 
by our leader as to where we were going, nor did I know of a "Scout, mountaineer, or guide" 
being in our camp for one day, or for anyone to give a word to point or direct our way but 
Brigham Young. And never until after our arrival in Salt Lake Valley, did I see Fremount, [John 

C. Femont] Kit Carson, Peg Leg Smith or Captain [Jim] Bridger, all of whom I saw after our 
Modern Moses guided alone by revelation, had led us to the Salt Lake Valley. 

"Of changes and mistakes," I hardly feel inspired to write, For change is everywhere and in 
everything, and liability of change and mistakes is with every one, and if the Master "learned 
obedience" through experience, how much more need of experience have we?. I believe that the 
mistakes of a true man will be as steps upon which he will rise to greater wisdom, exertions, and 
to broader views. And why should not the experience of yesterday make us the wiser today? We 
are not always in the same mind and feeling; for when prompted by hunger, He cursed the tree 
that bore Him no fruit; and when angry with scourges he drove from the Temple "money 
changers" and kicked over their tables. But this was not His mood when at the grave of Lazarus 
He so wept that the guests exclaimed, "Behold how He loveth him"; nor when in view of 
calamities to come He wept over Jerusalem; and does it not look like a mistake that He chose as 
one of His apostles a Judas to betray Him? 

And now all of this, to a great degree, finds a parallel in the life of the Prophet Joseph. He was 
already to fight for the rights and liberties of his friends, and his heart was ever full of sympathy 
and tears, to sorrow with those he loved; and he too chose among his counsellors and friends 
those who did betray and bring him to death. And no man, seemingly, could make greater 
mistakes in selection of associates than did the Prophet; and this, with the many other things of 
which he was accursed, his enemies held as evidence that he was a fallen prophet. And even the 
Lord not only at times admonished him for neglect of duty; but speaks of his "sins" and 
"transgressions", which would imply that he was not always equally enlightened and guided by 
inspiration. And in the earliest days he did so make mistakes that the Lord at one time withheld 
from him the keys of his calling. And he does not in his own history hesitate to say that after 
conversing with both the Father and the Son, and being administered to by holy angels, that he 
made great mistakes and was overcome in transgression and sins. And as to mistakes through 
want of properly discerning the "times and seasons" of prophetic events, we were over seventy 
years ago taught by our leaders to believe that the coming of Christ and the millenial reign was 
much nearer than then we believe it to be now. And mistakes through imaginations and 
groundless hopes have been all along the line of our experience as a Church. And are not our 
reverses, disappointments and mistakes permitted to be monitors and guides for the future? And I 
do know of things done and of principles taught by the Prophet Joseph that our Prophet, Joseph 
F., would not today accept as an example for him to imitate. And is not our growth in wisdom the 
cumulated fruit of our experimental or active life? 

"President Brigham Young." Of Brigham Young as President of the Church, I will again bear this 
as a faithful testimony that I do know and bear record that upon the head of Brigham Young as 
chief, with the Apostleship in full, was by the voice of the Prophet Joseph in my hearing, laid the 
full responsibility of bearing of the kingdom of God to all the world. And I do further bear as a 
testimony, faithful and true, to the Church and to all the world, that at a conference of the whole 
Church, at Nauvoo, subsequent to the Prophet's death and return of the absent Apostles, that I sat 

in the assembly near to President Rigdon, closely attentive to his appeal to the conference to 
recognize and sustain his claim as "Guardian for the Church." And I was perhaps, to a degree, 
forgetful of what I knew to be the rights and duties of the apostleship, and as he closed his 
address and sat down, my back was partly turned to the seat occupied by Apostle Brigham Young 
and other Apostles, when suddenly, and as from Heaven, I heard the voice of the Prophet Joseph, 
that thrilled my whole being, and quickly turning around I saw in the transfiguration of Brigham 
Young, the tall, straight and portly form of the Prophet Joseph Smith, clothed in a sheen of light, 
covering him to his feet; and I heard the real and perfect voice of the Prophet, even to the whistle, 
as in years past caused by the loss of a tooth said to have been broken out by the mob at Hyrum. 
This view, or vision, although but for seconds, was to me as vivid and real as the glare of 
lightning or the voice of thunder from the heavens, and so deeply was I impressed with what I 
saw and heard in this transfiguration, that for years I dare not publicly tell what was given me of 
the Lord to see. But when in later years I did publicly bear this testimony, I found that others 
would testify to having seen and heard the same. But to what proportion of the congregation who 
were present I could never know. But I do know that this, my testimony is true. 

The Prophet's lost tooth, to which I alluded was, as generally understood, broken out by the mob 
at Hyrum while trying to pry open his mouth to strangle him with acid, which from time, until the 
tooth was replaced by a dentist neighbor, a year or so previous to his death, there had a 
whistle-like sound to accompany all his public speaking which I again plainly heard at the time 
of which I write. 

And while I do know that Brigham Young as President of the Church, was the right man in the 
right place, and a great leader for Israel, I still know that he never claimed to be perfect in all of 
his ways, but that, like his brethren, he at times was liable to mistakes. And to some of his 
mistakes I am a witness, and also that he saw some of his mistakes and nobly corrected them. 

And to show more fully his leading traits and general "personal character", I will go back to 
relate that soon after embracing the gospel in 1832, Brigham Young started with his brother from 
their home in the state of New York, to visit the Prophet at Kirtland, and on their way called 
upon us at Pomfret, N. Y., who had received the gospel just before them, and remaining 
overnight with my sister's husband, Lyman R. Sherman. And while at evening in animated 
conversation upon the gifts as promised to accompany the gospel, the spirit came upon Brother 
Sherman in mighty power, and he opened his mouth in an unknown tongue, to the great surprise 
and joy of all, and I think that Brother Brigham also at that time received the gift; Brother Lyman 
R. Sherman being the first known to have spoken in the gift of tongues by the power of God in 
this dispensation. And on Brother Brigham arriving in Kirtland at the Prophet's home, being 
called to lead in family prayer, as a surprise even to the Prophet, he opened his mouth in a strange 
tongue, the first heard by him, which he said at once was in the language of our first parents. And 
he, at that time, made the Prediction upon the head of Brigham Young that "at some period he 
would become the leader of the Church, and that there would be but one danger to beset him, and 
that would be his love of wealth." These things were told me by Brother Sherman at near the time 

of their occurrence, who remained almost as the right hand of the Prophet until the day of his 
death. And while I am witness that after the Prophet's death that Brigham Young became Israel's 
great leader, a Prophet, Seer and Revelator, to the Church in all the world, I yet know that he was 
a great financier and at times did manifest a love for wealth, and did make mistakes, some of 
which he may not have lived fully to rectify. But with all of his mistakes, private or public, his 
voice was ever the voice of the true shepherd to Israel. And in looking for mistakes, I feel 
admonished to look after my own personality, which, with all of his faults, might perhaps leave 
me, in comparison, too small for a full claim to notice. 

From his young manhood, all through his after life, in close observation, I saw him through every 
calling, rise to become Israel's great chief, holding every key of Priesthood and power pertaining 
to the Kingdom of God on the earth and the salvation for the dead. And I saw, too, that through 
his great capacity as financier, with his love of riches, that he became as the Prophet had foretold, 
possessed of great wealth, which, although it may have had an influence to a degree upon his 
children, it had none to draw him from the love or duties of his high calling, in which, at times, 
he seemed fully tested, and the confidence of the people was towards him from his first assuming 
the Presidency. 

His great influence as a leader seemed to lie in his quick discernment, his ready decisions, and in 
his right judgment, in placing men and things in their proper position, and to their best possible 
use; while his intuitive magnetism, his kindly sympathy in afflictions, his noble bearing as a 
brother, friend and as a man in its true and full sense, inspired confidence, respect and love in all 
who really knew him. And as for comparing him with others filling the same position, I can only 
think of them all, and each, as strong and mighty pillars in the Great Temple of our Hopes, equal 
in strength and use, but each molded by the Master hand in symmetry and beauty to a difference 
in form and mind but not in Priesthood and purpose. 

"Brigham Young, his interest in education." Upon this question I will not prolong remarks. With 
Brigham Young from 1832 until his death in 1877 I was often closely associated, and I know him 
to have been a pioneer, a promoter, and a true friend to education, and although he was not 
himself cultured in scholarship or refined by classic education, yet he by nature was highly 
cultured and refined both in habit, demeanor and conversation, and no one could associated with 
him and not be impressed by his refining influence. And so far as the influence of music and 
drama tend to civilize and elevate, or refine society, credit should be due to Brigham Young as 
the pioneer chief in their promotion and establishment in the heart of the "Great American 
Desert," to give musical tone and inspiration to all its divisions into states. 

But we should not forget that Brigham Young was the leader of a people, driven before the 
cannon and bayonet, of a heartless and cruel mob, who fled across the Mississippi in winter, 
leaving their homes without opportunity to provide food or clothing; and plundered of all they 
could not carry, and to go they knew not where; and to save the lives of all of these many 
thousands now devolved on Brigham Young, even to look after the possibilities for 
transportation, to learn the way, to open roads, to see that all had food, and then protect them 

from the tomahawk, scalping knife and bullet; and when in the Valleys, to measure out land, to 
formulate laws, and to counsel the people how to save a pittance from swarms of crickets and 
locusts that ravaged their field. 

And for some years, President Young, with all the people, were devotedly seeking to save the 
souls of the people alive, from starvation, with hope of a better day for education. 

But enthused by the spirit of our leader, in every way-station on the road, in every town or ward 
settled after arriving in Utah, about the first house built by the people was for public school and 
meeting purposes. And that Brigham Young opposed education, with desire to keep his people in 
ignorance, is a monster in falsehood, for he was not only the pioneer in education in the mountain 
states, but so long as he lived he assisted it liberally with his means, and the Brigham Young 
Academy and College, in Utah, will continue to bear fruit to the honor of his name after his 
traducers with their falsehoods, are buried in forgetfulness, under the contempt of God and all 
just men. 

"What I know of the objects and purposes, in raising the Mormon Battalion." To show you that I 
did know the motive of President Young in sending the Battalion, I will say that as one of that 
special Council organized by the Prophet, of which I have written, and of which President Young 
being the head, I still hold my seat and still had a voice in all general movements relating to our 
exodus as a people from Nauvoo. And I will say that this council, as a legislature of the people, 
did continue under the Presidency and became the Colonial Council, or legislature of the State of 
Deseret. And I was present at the arrival of Colonel Little and company at Garden Grove, with 
the requisition, by Gout for five hundred volunteers for the American Army, served upon the 
fleeting Mormons as a test to their loyalty and patriotism by Senator Benton of Missouri. It was 
well understood at the time, as the subject was fully ventilated by the council, and all 
comprehended it as a great sacrifice and that there was no reward or benefit offered by the 
government in any degree. 

It was a test of the people's and our Prophet's loyalty and patriotism while under arrest; and this 
patriotism and loyalty was now to be placed upon the alter at a great disadvantage. And would 
we stand the test— even as did our Father Abraham answer this great question? 

At Garden Grove all of the enlistment was filled, and now, this was unequalled patriotism and 
valor of the Sons of Zion, who sacrificed aged parents, wives and children, sweethearts and other 
dear ones, by leaving them homeless, unprotected, and to the mercy of the wild and naked plains. 

That such a privilege was sought for by the Mormons, should be stamped as a monstrosity in 
falsehood. But that it was a great and far-reaching test of loyalty all will admit, which was to 
establish the truth of Mormon love and loyalty to that heaven-inspired and God-given 
Constitution of the United States, which will yet give guarantee of liberty and equal rights to all 
people of-the earth and nations shall "learn war no more," and shall learn to better comprehend 
that great principle of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. 

I do not think of more to write. 
Signed, Benjamin F. Johnson